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European Plastic Pipes Industry Goes Above And Beyond Recycling Target With New 250,000 Tonne Commitment

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Members of The European Plastic Pipes and Fittings Association (TEPPFA) have pledged to increase their recycling targets to 250,000 tonnes a year by 2020 but warn they are being held back by European legislation.

Despite a significant existing voluntary target for the plastic pipes industry to recycle 120,000 tonnes of plastic a year by 2020, as outlined by the VinylPlus initiative, TEPPFA members believe they can achieve more than double this level providing  obstacles in current EU and national legislation are addressed.

Reducing waste and improving management of natural resources has long been a high-profile EU agenda and has most recently been communicated in the Commission’s Circular Economy Package. Promoting a reuse or recycle first culture, the Circular Economy proposal clearly communicates that incineration with energy recovery is a second choice option and landfill is a last resort for plastic products.

However, contradictory to the aspirations of the Circular Economy Package, failure to address these legislative obstacles will make it extremely difficult for the plastic pipes industry to continue increasing its recycling levels and could even put the future of recycling in jeopardy.

Under The Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) Legislation and the Waste Framework Directive (WFD) some additives found in a number of the end of life plastic materials suitable for recycling will be classified as hazardous or harmful to human health or the environment resulting in them being consigned to incineration or landfill. Recent research reports have clearly shown that, under specified conditions, there is no health, safety or environmental risk associated with recycling end of life products containing these “legacy substances”.

TEPPFA General Manager, Tony Calton commented: “The problem posed under REACH and WFD is that without amendments being made more plastic waste will be incinerated and sent to landfill when it can safely be recycled without risk to human health or the environment. Research has shown that none of the potentially harmful additives are released during the recycling and pipe manufacturing processes, or during the use phase of the products as they are locked into the matrix of the material.

For this reason TEPPFA is currently campaigning at EU level for a special status for the recyclable material containing additives which may now or in the future be covered under REACH and WFD to allow it to be recycled and not consigned to incineration or landfill – second and third choices as outlined in the Circular Economy Package.

Tony Calton continued: “We are deeply encouraged by the industry wide commitment from our members to increase recycling levels and see it as a landmark moment for the sustainability agenda in our sector. However, in order to achieve the highest levels of recycling we need policymakers at both EU and member state level to partner with industry to resolve this issue.

”TEPPFA members are working together to vastly reduce the industry’s environmental impact at a Europe-wide level, committing to a new recycling target which incorporates PVC-u, polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP). The commitment is supported by advances in recycling technology, eco-design and the wider availability of suitable recycled material to incorporate into high quality products.

 

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